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mastertangler
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09/10/2017 08:40AM
My love affair with the Shadzillas continues. But on this last trip I wanted to do some head to head comparisons with other mega sized swim baits. Here is the results........of course this is a one time very limited meager sampling but we can kick it around some.

1) Huddleston........the Huddleston swim baits have made an impressive name for themselves amongst the trophy bass crowd. Their action is generally a bit more subtle with less "roll" and a realistic tail swimming action, again a bit more subdued than a paddle tail. They come equipped with a single top hook and a place to attach a belly hook. I added an owner frog hook, the largest one they make, and secured it flush to the belly of the rubber by using a cut paper clip to pin the hook against the rubber. The finishes are ultra realistic and I had high hopes. I did catch one 38" northern on it but overall I wasn't especially pleased with the hooking ability on toothy fish like northern and did have a few come unglued. Might be an awesome night time trolling bait for trophy walleye?

2) Muskie Innovations Swimming Dawg.........I had high hopes for these big baits. Excellent color combinations, lifelike "roll" and quite a nice flutter action with the tail. I popped a few 30" pike on these but overall the jury is still out. A few negatives........hook placement, a big treble placed near the head of the lure, added to line tangles and wasted retrieves. The thinness of the tail section, which makes such a nice fluttering and kicking motion, was prone to getting nipped off and I was a bit peeved when my $25 bait bit the trash bin after an hour of use. But I still suspect these baits will put some HUGE Muskie and pike on the board so I haven't given up on them.

3) The Shadzillas still ruled the trip putting 4 other pike between 38" and 42" and to be completely honest I did not fish hard. Had I put in big days instead of a few hours in the evening once I had the spot wired I have little doubt I could have doubled my catch of quality fish. The Shadzillas are a touch smaller than the Swimming dawgs and ride a bit higher in the water column. They are also far more durable. I have never lost a paddle tail on a Shadzilla. Naturally they do get tore up but with a product called "mend it" they are easily repaired and every one I have purchased is still fishable. The hooking ability is unsurpassed and once a fish commits to striking it is rare that it gets off. As per the Sabourin lodge (WCPP) fish guides advice I picked up a black color and it provided me with 2 quality fish in the same evening including my personal best.

Tossing big swimbaits out of a canoe is not for everyone and requires specialized gear. I was using a loomis Muskie rod, 7' MH power and a Shimano Curado with 65 lb power pro and 60lb florocarbon leaders (8' leader attached via an FG knot). I only had to retie once due to a shredded leader and I might consider dropping to 50.

Trolling the big baits are considerably easier however and a bass flipping stick could likely be employed. The strikes are often rather vicious so a very stable and secure rod holder would be considered a must. Particularly, if, like myself, you decide to tow your fish into shallower water where you can safely handle them. As you get near shallow water they can really get a bit upset and test your equipment. The 8' fluorocarbon shines here as it is supremely abrasion resistant to any sharp rocks which might destroy straight braid as you get shallow.

Again I can't stress enough about safety. Do not try and remove hooks with a regular pair of needle nose pliers. The distance between the ultra sharp 8/0 trebles will comprise all but the largest tools. I use a pair of Shimano 9" and I feel confident with those.

I suspect others will beat me to the punch when it comes to running these in the Quetico on big lakes like Basswood since I am hoping for a Woodland Caribou trip next August. Let me know how you do.

 
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Bdubguy
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09/12/2017 12:18PM
I appreciate your insights MT. I'm a fan of big swimbaits too, but have not pulled the trigger on a Shadzilla yet. I was re-watching the 39 Hour segments recently after Miss Molly's recent post and notice Aaron was tossing a Shadzilla looking for big pike in one of the segments. He must be a believer too....

Any word on your place post Irma??
mastertangler
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09/12/2017 04:00PM
Yup they are lights out for the big girls. I EXPECT now to get a pike at or near 40" per day if I am in the right water. The only drawback, other than having to have specialty equipment to use the big lures and specialty equipment to remove the lure, is the heavy tackle is less sporting.

Hook a 40" pike on 8 or 10lb test and the outcome is very much in doubt. Plenty of skill and a touch of luck is quite helpful. But hook a 40" pike with 65 lb braid and 60lb leader with a Shadzilla and she is yours. To be honest after the 5th big one I got a little bored after the initial thrill and would of likely switched up to looking for big walleye had they been around.

Having said that, the Shadzillas will always be a part of my canoeing adventures. 30" pike are a good eating size but 40" pike make for an interesting tussle and make for better pictures. I'm waiting for a 32" walleye to crush one as well.

My place received zero damage. Last hurricane (Wilma) I had 9K worth of fence damage alone. Had to get a new roof on my home and lost 20% of my shops roof. I also lost a carport and had an outbuilding damaged. State Farm was excellent and cut me a check for 20K. Right now I am sitting in Detroit metro waiting for my flight to Ft Lauderdale. Power is out in our little town and my wife is complaining it's hot with no AC. I got news for her, after a month in the woods its fixin to stay a bit on the high temp side.
walleyevision
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09/12/2017 04:02PM
Any color suggestions for Basswood lake, specifically Jackfish Bay?
mastertangler
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09/12/2017 04:22PM
quote walleyevision: "Any color suggestions for Basswood lake, specifically Jackfish Bay?"

Heck if I know. So far I have caught them on a wide variety of colors. The Sabourin Lake guides had Shazillas hanging on their rods as well as big Jakes. They asked me if I had any black colors. Black Zombie resulted in 2 40"+ northern in an hour at a good spot including my personal best at 42" but very thick. I like the Rugen destroyer and the trout finish as well as the black but I bet any color would take fish.
bigeyedfish
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09/14/2017 07:51AM
Hey MT! Sorry to be off the subject of swimbaits, I have checked your blog a couple of times to look for your Isle Royale trip report. Please let us know when you have finished it as I am looking forward to reading it! Thanks
mastertangler
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09/14/2017 08:24AM
It was a good trip.......I like what I got but it's gonna be tough for some to wade through. I did quite a bit of mat work to increase my mobility (boring) and hiking (double boring) but there are a few bright spots. The biggest surprise was all the interesting people I met, how many moose are around, and how concentrated the fish are.

I almost didn't go because of the pile of work sitting in front of me so who knows when I will get the thing typed up. On the other hand, I can be obsessive / compulsive and once I get started on something I find it hard to stop (I.e. the movie "The Accountant" lol)

But what about big Swimbaits? I will prevail upon a few and they will catch the biggest pike of their life no doubt. All I ask is you be prepared to handle them with extreme concern to your own safety. The thought of someone getting tore up due to my advice is intolerable to me. No fish is worth it........these lures put you at great risk of just that wether it is a 24" pike or a 40" plus.

9" needle nose, a lindy glove and either a good knowledge of where to pick a big pike up at (just behind the underside gill they have a built in handle) or a Boga grip are not optional. One could also remove the belly hook and depend on the front treble and top hook.
bigeyedfish
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09/14/2017 09:19AM
Awesome, please give us an update when you get it finished please!

And by the way you should clear your conscience of any one getting hurt with these swim baits as you have been very vigilant with warnings and very good advice as to avoid injury! Thanks for your insight and passion when it comes to catching big fish!
Mad_Angler
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09/14/2017 11:08AM
This sounds very interesting...

But I need more details.... When, where and how do you throw these big swimbaits?
mastertangler
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09/14/2017 11:37AM
quote Mad_Angler: "This sounds very interesting...


But I need more details.... When, where and how do you throw these big swimbaits?"


Mad Angler
I caught wind of these via the web being a hot Muskie lure only a year or so ago. So the when, where and how is best left to the guys who really know and my suggestion is to dig around and read from the pros on the net.

All I know is the results for me have been solid. I have been using Muskie lures for pike for several years now but these big rubber swimbaits, particularly the Shadzillas, have really shined. In WCPP I tended to troll them mostly over rock with good results. Recently in Isle Royale the pike really gravitated towards weeds and I would cast for them using a 7' MH action Muskie rod and a Curado. A bit of work and the right outfit is a must to lob these around even for a couple of hours.

My thinking is a big pike is unlikely, generally speaking, to move very far to eat something small. I believe the profile and tail thump of a Shadzilla gets a big fish interested enough to get its big fat lazy behind off the couch.
joetrain
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09/14/2017 01:10PM
Your post stated that you tied a 60lb fluoro leader to your braid using the FG knot. That is a great connection knot.

My question is are you still running a steel leader or just the fluoro? Also what knot are you using for the fluoro to whatever comes after it connection. Do you consider the 60 lb fluoro stout enough for teeth?
~JOE~
mastertangler
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09/14/2017 04:30PM
I am still tinkering a bit Joe. I started with 80 fluorocarbon in WCPP and dropped to 60 fluorocarbon on my last outing. I had one fish which damaged the leader and then only very superficially. It probably would of been fine but with 8' of leader why not retie? I am considering dropping to 50 but am a little hesitant if I get a REALLY big pike on the extra beef would be comforting. It seems like they eat the 60 just fine. No steel leader BTW.

The FG knot is the ticket IMO particularly with the extra long leaders I am using. It has been mentioned on the forum that the FG knot can come apart. That's true but it's not common. Here's the rub, you will notice it happen as it doesn't fail immediately but rather happens over a period of time. Simply retie. I have used the "Slim beauty" and the uni before that.......the FG is clearly superior IMO in ease of tying, slimness, strength and reliability. Salt Strong is the utube video to watch.

The knot to use to attach the fluorocarbon to the split ring (yes in this instance I tie to the ring > the heavy line overcomes any physics issues) is called a Gryp Knot and it is tied via a tie fast tool. Use 3 turns with 50 to 80lb line. This is the BEST knot and I have used it to land many very large and strong saltwater fish. The tie fast is a fly fishermans tool and will run you around $10. It does wonders with light line as well (use 6 turns). Wet the line and pull Florocarbon slowly as you can create heat and damage it if pulled quickly. The gyrp knot "clicks" into place and the tag end will stand straight up. Use your forefinger to trap each wrap as you go around the shank of the tool. Give it a little "snap" to remove it, wet, and pull slowly. Test all work.
rpike
member (46)member
 
09/15/2017 02:40PM
I would be uncomfortable using 50 (or even 60#) fluorocarbon as a leader. I used to use 80# fluorocarbon while fishing for muskies. I stopped using it when I had one engulf a muskie-sized spinnerbait and shred the leader. The sides of their teeth are like knives. I felt the strike and the fish was gone just that fast. I now use 130# fluorocarbon, but 100# would likely be fine. The fish we were catching the day I had the leader shredded were 38-42" pike, so as much as I'd like to think it was a huge muskie that sliced the leader, it probably was not.

With the much heavier fluoro, you notice a nick in the line before it becomes an issue.

Yes, the heavier fluoro is not nearly as flexible, so it will kill the action of a small lure. On a shadzilla, no problem.

When I want a much thinner, flexible leader for pike (or muskies) I use Cortland Toothy Critter Tie-able coated, wire leader or equivalent. The wire can be much thinner because teeth don't cut it.
rpike
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09/15/2017 02:49PM
BTW, I have not tried a Shadzilla yet, but I think I will. Thanks for the tip!
mastertangler
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09/15/2017 06:23PM
Interesting conversation rpike about leader material. I am pretty sure I read in the most recent Esox magazine where one of the authors (in-fisherman guy) that he was using 60 fluorocarbon for pike but it was a brand I had never heard of and was harder than most.

My 42" had the Shadzilla completely engulfed with just the tail of the lure sticking out. Very thick muscular fish and not only did I fight the fish to the boat I towed the brute to shore. Damage to my leader was minimal and I considered using it as is but retied.

You are probably right however that 50 is pushing my luck. I will stay with 60 until I'm proven wrong. Most of the Musky guys like the 130 # and I have several Stealth fluorocarbon leaders in that lb test. Musky seem like a much stronger fish IMO.

Definitely give the Shadzillas a try. Don't wait until spring to get them as they are basically a mom and pop shop and have limited production runs. Also be sure to pick up some "Mend it" from Tackle Wharehouse as they get sliced and diced. Lastly the belly treble is attached via a wire harness of sorts. This can get bent during the fight and cause the lure to swim off to one side. Straighten it and your good to go.
Bdubguy
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09/16/2017 12:55PM
MT, I'm probably needing to beef up my gear. I typically have a bait caster spooled with 12-14lb mono, 6.5-7 ft MH rod along. Not a flipping stick though. Too light??
mastertangler
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09/16/2017 02:52PM
quote Bdubguy: "MT, I'm probably needing to beef up my gear. I typically have a bait caster spooled with 12-14lb mono, 6.5-7 ft MH rod along. Not a flipping stick though. Too light?? "

Yep your not even close. You will break your line or your rod on the cast alone and setting the hook would be very hard. These lures weigh some 8 oz. Backpackers at McCargo cove (isle Royale) thought I had caught a fish when they seen the Shadzilla hanging from my rod lol.

You could troll these with a bass flipping stick but casting them might be awkward. You really need minimum 30 lb braid and 50 would be better. I use 65 power pro which ties very nicely to the 60 fluorocarbon leader via the FG knot.

I get that this is not for everyone. Big heavy specialized gear but the results are impressive and I am only scratching the surface.

If you want to give it a try you could get a 7' MH Muskie rod from Bass Pro for around $100. A bait caster capable of spooling up 50 lb braid would be ideal. If you want to cast you need a better quality reel like a Curado or a Toro but for trolling you could get by with something less expensive. Think about it this way........if pike are shallow, if you go early in the year, you will likely need to cast for them. But from July onward you can troll quietly over the top of them and they will slip up behind your boat to smack your bait even if it is only 20 ft behind your boat. Provided you paddle quietly of course.

Bear in mind that a MH Muskie rod will be vastly different than a MH walleye rod (obviously). I do not like a Hard action Muskie rod as they are truly a broomstick. A little flex in the rod aids in loading and tossing these big heavy lures. The 7' ft is also a bit easier to handle in a seated position than an 8' stick. Standing in a boat I would take the 8' all day long but not so in a canoe.
mastertangler
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09/17/2017 06:55AM
Rats, I forgot to throw the Savage Gear pike into the comparison. It accounted for one nice pike on the trip but I thought the ultra lifelike imitation would of done better. There were a few bays with very highly educated fish and I figured the life like presentation would shine but it did not.

On the plus side the lure is not nearly so heavy as the solid rubber swimbaits. Throw in substantially smaller trebles (easier to set) and you have a large offering which doesn't require nearly as heavy tackle to use.

But it doesn't have the side to side "rolling" action of the big swimbaits but rather glides and is more subtle. A good cool water choice as it can be fished slowly with frequent pauses and also good for shallow water or over the tops of weeds.

The Savage gear Burbot looks to be similar but comes in a humongous size as well as standard. In a pinch you could always filet and eat the lure.
 
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